Team Ninja
Tecmo
Action
1
03.02.04

Ninja Gaiden


I remember parts of my childhood quite fondly. I must admit in the realm of growing up with video games, the best moment was when I was about the age of 9 or 10. After mowing about ten lawns, I came home with this awesome looking game. Slowly, I pulled it from within its box, stopped to admire it for a few seconds, and then popped it into my Nintendo. It was the year of 1989 and I was treated to something special, yet unheard of: cinemas! To my knowledge, Ninja Gaiden was the first to use the idea of cinemas to explain a story in a video game environment.

This grandpappy of games blew me away and captivated me! To this day, I still remember pressing start and being drawn into this world. A world of boxing bad guys from the first level, cross throwing reapers from the second, or those annoying eagles and machine gun guys from the third level! Just when you thought that a complex game couldn't get any more difficult, you climb a cliff where confronted with bloody malth. I'm not positive, but I believe this is level 6. Now as I recall, this bad mamma jamma was throwing lightening at you and whipping you hardcore. I'm saying to myself, "This guy killed my father, gotta get him man!" I was so excited! I can remember running in, ducking and slashing like a madman. I was high and mighty that I finally beat him, beat the game, got my dragon statue back, and exacted revenge on my father's murderer. But wait, there's more! Just as I thought I was done, I found out the real culprit was a man named Jaquio. He was a bad dude now. I'm not going to go into detail about what goes down, but the game was legendary and always will be. But the question remains. Does the new Ninja Gaiden stack up? It all depends on how you look at it. Ninja Gaiden, as a side scroller, was perfect in design and execution. However, in 3D I wasn't so sure if it would be able to carry the weight of such a legendary series. To my surprise, it does it at ease! Besides an utter perfection for some shoddy camera angles, going 3D was a great transition. I had to write the review so that anyone reading this can rest assured in the safety of buying this game. I can't stress enough how much it is worth it to purchase this game.

Graphics

The graphics are simply stunning! I think that about sums it up. From the fluid animation of Ryu Hayabusa to the way water falls down cliffs and rocks. From the way a flame casts reflections on the surrounding area, to the way you effortlessly swing your equipped weapon. And from draw distance, to up close encounters. Everything is overdone, but in such a way you actually appreciate and enjoy it. It's an over the top, graphics extravaganza. I have no idea what to really say, because I don't think I've ever come across a game with the same amount of detail and paid much attention to the environment. The cinemas...there is no amount of words that can parlay this to you, but you feel like you're watching a movie (like some sad, sick, and demented ninja and demon world being played right in front of your eyes). It's unbelievable! I can't emphasize enough how amazing the graphics are!

Gameplay

Gameplay is where things with this game get a little hairy! From a third-person viewpoint, the gameplay is staggering and intuitive. But getting the hang of it, and being able to fully control Ryu takes time and patience. Remember your first girlfriend or boyfriend? Remember how much time and patience you put in towards that first kiss, or how you felt when it finally happened and it all was worth it? Well that's what the gameplay in Ninja Gaiden resembles. At first it's frustrating to be beaten by even normal, so called, easy enemies! Believe me, you will be and you will be often! Just wait until you get the hang of things! For instance, here's a normal fight scene for you: You're running down an alley just to come across three guards patrolling the area. What do you do? You have a guard with a big gun, as they all do, but he's the most problematic due to positioning and having the task to take out the two guards in front of him. Which also means your just going to have to lose some life. Well what would a ninja do? Since you will have only about three seconds before the guards realize what's going on, you need to think fast or die! Examine you have walls on both sides with a guard to the far back of the screen pressed against a wall, a guard in front of him, and to the side of that guard another one. From the looks of them, they don't want to play nice! Well how about this? You jump onto the wall landing in a Shinobi style wall run. You are to jump off just at the right time (all the while you're being shot at and pursued by your enemies) to land a hit on the farthest enemy. This ends up with taking off his head. Without pause you quickly dash backwards to eliminate the enemy behind you (who's still shooting at you). Watch as his bullets fly over your ducked head. Then you make contact! Watch as your sword gently presses through his body and ends his pathetic life. Next, you watch as your enemy crumples to the floor. Finally, you jump into the air without a break to quickly come down on the third enemy's head with your sword. Now you realize you did all that without thinking, without breathing, and you alone remain victorious and unchallenged. Surrounded by the bodies of fallen enemies the realization kicks in. Just up ahead it's going to get a lot tougher with stronger, faster, and smarter enemies. You're ready for them and you actually can't wait to get up close and personal with them!

It's even more fun to toy with them. Once you get the counter-attack skill, you can block their weapons and strikes. Just when they think they have you, they immediately halt their attack with an up, down, or across slash. Or you can wail from you're nunchakus or swift deliverance of pain from the war hammer. You can then follow this with an immediate kick to the chest then a flying roundhouse to the head. Sound amazing? Well it's not, it's breathtaking! This game does everything right at the perfect times from the way there is absolutely no lag from button press, to reaction on screen, to the way Ryu controls. Once you have it all figured out (just remember the block button is your friend and the key to this game), you shouldn't have to throw the controller in frustration. This is a tough game, but with the patience comes pure and utter satisfaction. I highly recommend playing with the game about three hours before you can even consider trying to make any headway in it. It's that hard, but it's like a fine wine! Wine that isn't aged tastes like crap, but wine that is given time tastes amazing (bad analogy-I know). As of this game, give gameplay a chance and you will be well rewarded! The only problem that I came across is the camera angles in some of the boss fights. They can get quite ridiculous not allowing you to see what's going on, but you can always just run away and get a better angle on things. So it's not too bad! Thank goodness for floating camera angles that adjust to what's going on!

Sound

Okay, I'm not going to write a book on this one! The music is good with memorable tunes, hard-hitting sword clashes, and machine gun fire. There's even screams and growls of the undead and demons. This game has it all! You can even hear fire crackle as you run by it, or birds chirping in the distance. There's even the sound of water flowing down rocks. Basically the music is good and easy on the ears. The sound effects and the voice acting are actually extremely good. It's not final fantasy type music (that just sticks in you're head for days, if not weeks), but it is damn near close!

Replay Value

To be honest, you're not going to get everything your first time through this game, and that's the way the programmers wanted it. They wanted you to actually play through the game a couple of times. Once you beat it, if you play through it again, you come across your dragon sword later on in the game. I think that by using it, you can get a different ending, but I'm not 100% sure. The fact that there's actually different difficulty settings and different rewards depending on the level it's set at, you have more of a reason to play through the game again. I want to beat it just to get the evil Ryu! Then you also come across golden scarabs that are hidden throughout the levels. There are a total of fifty of them, and they unlock things as you give them to Muramasa (the shop owner). What they unlock is really cool, such as the original Ninja Gaiden Nintendo game. If that wasn't enough, they included the second and third one. Holy crap that's awesome! Just try unlocking them though; it takes some serious effort and skill! This game is all about replay and once you play it, you won't mind playing it through again.

Bottom Line:

You hate wasting time and money on really bad games. Well, stop buying them and buy just one. Buy Ninja Gaiden. I repeat, buy Ninja Gaiden! You won't be disappointed and you'll thank me for telling you to pick it up. Basically you'll see that the Xbox is capable of creating games that are way more advanced than what we've seen so far. Ninja Gaiden was the first to revolutionize things in 1989, and now it's set to do it again in 2004! Long live Ryu Hayabusa.

Related Links:

Official Ninja Gaiden Website

-Kohl Campbell




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